SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A week later, he called the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver one of the most stressful of his life, ending in a lucrative contract extension. Deebo Samuel was finally free on Tuesday to address the speculation that has swirled around him during a tumultuous offseason.
Samuel, who just signed a three-year contract extension worth up to $73.5 million. USD, and wear a jersey with a teammate Brandon Aijuk on him, sat down and spent more than eight minutes questioning him about the contract saga that saw him request a trade in the spring, clean up his social media and ultimately try to stay with the 49ers.
“At the end of the day, this is a business,” Samuel said. “So the communication changed. The more we communicated, the more we started to figure things out.”
Samuel mostly declined to elaborate on exactly what prompted him to request a trade. At one point, Samuel was asked directly if he regretted asking for a trade. He reiterated that it was a business and that he was happy that everything worked out.
However, Samuel took the time to address several points that were raised as the source of his unhappiness.
Most importantly, Samuel pushed back on the idea that he was unhappy with the Niners’ use of him in the dual running-receiver role he took on in the second half of last season, and that he didn’t want to continue doing so. .
“That’s not true,” said Samuel. “There were a lot of things that came out that I wanted to talk about, but at the end of the day I wasn’t allowed to. You can turn on the tape or go back to the Cowboys game. It kind of shows what kind of player I am. Also, you can go turn on the Pro Bowl tape and like I said about the wide back, I don’t mind doing whatever it takes to win this team.”
About his relationship with the quarterback Trey Lancewho has taken over as the starter since Samuel last played for the team, Samuel said it was happening.
“It’s getting better every day,” Samuel said. “It’s easy to be out there with Trey. He wants to learn, I want to learn, and we’re just going to come together as one and figure it out.”
From what Samuel was willing to reveal on Tuesday, his biggest problem seemed to be a communication breakdown. The Niners have extended long-term contracts with the quarterback in previous offseasons Fred Warner and tight end George Kittlehowever, both of those deals were made right before training camp started.
Samuel ended up getting the deal about five days into this year’s camp, but indicated he wished he had been more informed in the early parts of the offseason. After Samuel’s trade request in April, the Niners were adamant that they had no intention of trading him, and while they received several offers during the NFL draft, coach Kyle Shanahan said none of those offers were worthy of the team’s consideration.
Shanahan addressed Samuel’s situation for the first time that weekend, stressing the importance of getting a chance to meet with Samuel in person so they can work through whatever is bothering him.
That’s what Shanahan mentioned Monday when discussing Samuel’s extension.
“When you separate from each other, not just him and me, but just him and the whole building, and you walk out and you know what big decisions are coming, I think things happen,” Shanahan said. “But I think as soon as we got back close to mini-camp we could sit next to each other. It was pretty obvious that [we were] the same people we’ve always been, and we just needed to get back together and start communicating more.”
After the offseason program, Samuel attended the team’s mandatory minicamp in June. He had financial reasons to be there (there are fines for missing it), but Samuel said Tuesday he plans to be there regardless.
Both sides saw Samuel’s presence at the minicamp as a natural tipping point that helped seal the deal, even though it took more than a month.
“It’s a huge step when Deebo decided to come, even though he didn’t participate, just to show up for mandatory minicamp,” general manager John Lynch said. “I thought it was huge… And we actually had that thought the whole time, but right there I said, OK, we’re fine.
As the summer progressed, Samuel looked for ways to take his mind off the stress and anxiety of waiting for a deal to close. He regularly received calls from teammates like Lance asking about his status.
But that remains to be decided Trent Williams who seem to have played a crucial role in helping the two sides come together. At one point, Samuel, who considers Williams a “big brother,” spent a week with the Niners’ tight end, which Samuel said was “just hanging out” to take his mind off things.
Williams reminded Samuel to keep it level, offering advice from his experience negotiating a big contract with the Niners in 2021. and pointing out to Samuel that his close relationship with Shanahan is hard to come by in the NFL.
“One thing I told Deebo before is you have to continue to work on these relationships in the building,” Williams said. “Really don’t worry about what’s on the outside. Don’t worry about who’s in your corner saying this or that, how you and Kyle have a great relationship. And I don’t think you should let it go. I think the way you talk He and you all are the men you are and with the respect you all have for each other i think things can work out.
Those words proved prophetic, though it took some time for other top players in the league to receive their big contracts. When Samuel reported to camp on July 26, he did little practice and didn’t practice while he awaited the deal.
After realizing something was close, Samuel said he tried to distract himself by running, exercising and continuing to build on his relationship with Williams. Finally he got a call from agent Tory Dandy saying it was over, leaving Samuel speechless.
“It’s a feeling I can’t even explain to be honest with you,” Samuel said. “I was just speechless. It’s just a blessing to be in the position that I’m in. It shows all the hard work and everything that I do for this team. And, you know, I’m just happy to be here.”